The Toronto Raptors continue their homestand tonight against the Atlanta Hawks, hoping they can carry momentum from the impressive second half against the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors (42-20) won the last meeting against the Hawks (36-28) back in early December with Kyle Lowry leading the way.
Tonight, the Hawks are coming off of three consecutive wins and are on the final game of their road trip. In those games, Jeff Teague has gone on a tear and will likely prove to be a challenge once for the Raptors to pay attention to.
As Dwane Casey mentioned in the past couple days, they’ve scheduled out specific players for rest; tonight might be a different body, with Luis Scola returning after absence due to rest.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Games
- No Defensive Lapses
Despite the Hawks not being the team they were last season – production and talent wise – they are still a lethal team offensively. They rely heavily on ball movement and player movement to generate the easiest shot possible. The Raps have to be active in the term “see-ball see-man,” otherwise, before they know it, someone’s behind them for a cut and layup at the rim.
2. Cover the Paint
Al Horford, Paul Millsap, and Teague. ‘Nuff said. These three are lethal, and while they do have the capabilities of stepping outside, the vast majority of their offensive repertoire is about getting inside. The point of attack – Lowry and Cory Joseph – and the bigs inside – Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo – are major keys for the Raptors to have defensive success.
3. Involve each other
Atlanta is not the team they were defensively, a lot of that due to DeMarre Carroll parting ways to join the Raptors, however, are still very solid thanks to the system that’s been put in place. The Raptors have to do their best replication of Hawks/Spurs basketball by involving one another; it may not mean crisp passing and give-in-go’s. but allowing one another to touch the ball and get some movement. If a player is stuck dribbling with little intention to give it up, the Raptors will struggle offensively.
The Hawks’ bench is nowhere near the depth and talent the Raptors’ bench is, meaning Ross is going to have his fair share of opportunities tonight. Both starting fives are loaded with talent, but what wins the game is the bench production, and Ross is at the head of that department.